Thursday, August 20, 2015

What it Takes to Run a Marathon

In June, I successfully completed my first marathon. 
But seriously. I can't really describe how awesome it feels to accomplish one of my life goals, especially after this experience. 

I chose to run the Seattle Rock-N-Roll Marathon and my friend Haley was stupid enough to run it with me. (Ha!) JK, but seriously, there is some amount of psychotic imbalance in marathon runners. Did either of us train/run injury free?  Haha! Of course not! A couple months before we were supposed to start training, my knee started acting up again. I pushed it and then realized that what I actually needed was rest and healing. I took six weeks off running (WHICH SUCKED BY THE WAY) and then tried again - still a lot of pain. More rest and frequent visits to the physical therapist and I was able to start training. However, I'd missed the first month of training and was two months out of shape and considerably worried that I didn't have time to get in shape for a marathon. Which was partially true. Every run that first month into training was awful. Literally awful - sucking wind, sore muscles, just out of shape business.
We had a few half-marathons scheduled during our training and I missed the first one (ran the 10K instead) and the second one was my slowest half ever. Not exactly a self-esteem booster. I kept having to remind myself of the end goal - to finish a marathon. Not to PR on the half, not to be the fastest kid in the race, JUST FINISH. 
So for this marathon, I had no time goal, which was good because I ran a lot slower than normal. Haley and I just wanted to finish and feel good about that, regardless of our times.

Here we are on race day, right before the gun went off, no idea how we'd be feeling 4 hours and some change later.

I have never run such a big race before and I have to say, it was incredible. 20,000 people running looks and feels so inspiring. People line the streets and they cheer for you like you are their best friend - it's the best. 

Nick and Alex had a man date on their bikes while we ran. Haley and I expected to only see them a few times throughout the race, but they were able to ride their bikes for almost the whole course. We saw them often and they made sure we were aware of their presence which was unbelievably helpful at miles 17, 20, 22, 23, and 25. 

At mile 7ish, Haley and I split up (she's faster than me). Just knowing she was out on the course kept me going. 

She's a goof.

And I'm a goober, so we're totally compatible. 

This is mile 23 I think.
Bloody hell this was easily the worst/best part of the race for me.

This is where I hit the wall. Mentally I really started to struggle and my knee was on fire. I was so tired I couldn't really tell how fast I was running and I felt a little dizzy. Nick met me here and rode his bike right alongside me for a little bit chanting inspirational tidbits.
"You're so hot right now!"
"You gave birth naturally, this ain't no thing."
"You just passed that weird guy!"
"You've worked way to hard to give up now."
"You're such a good mom!"
"Think about what you're going to eat tonight."
"I love you!"

It was exactly what I needed. Running is so mental - if you think you can do it, you can. 
So at mile 24ish, I knew I was going to finish, which was the biggest confidence booster. I just kept saying to myself over and over, "I'm going to finish a marathon. This beast is mine. I've got this. I'M AMAZING." Stupid, but at the time it felt so true.

I literally cried when I crossed the finish line. Haley finished about ten minutes before me and I couldn't wait to debrief. Here we are looking super cute and sporty.

I literally walked like I had a flagpole up my bum for two days afterward.



This is us the night before at the expo. If you've never run a big race, it's totally worth it just to go to the expo. It's so fun and the atmosphere is just rad. It's better than an Arby's! Better food and cooler people there. JK THERE IS NO FOOD. Unless you like cliff bars, which are terrible. 

Also, you've probably noticed this from pictures, but I am an Amazon compared to Haley. She's 5'2 and I'm 5'7, so we make quite a pair.

My fave pic from race day.

There were many times that Haley and I couldn't get on runs together, which was sort of lame. When you get used to discussing life's deepest darkest issues AKA our children, what we love about our men and what we're going to eat that day, its hard not to have that! So sending selfies is a good way to make it feel like we ran together.

There's a lot more where this came from.

I could probably fill a book with nasty post-run photos of myself.

This is the Wenatchee Half, which I missed (ran the 10K instead). It was actually kind of nice because I got a few pictures of Haley crossing the finish line.

Looking legit.

Nailed it!

We ran with some cool friends, who are also addicted to running.

Our other half, the Eugene Half. This was like three months after my sister had Elle (She's the friggin' worst! JK she's amazing and I want to be her when I grow up). It was so fun, but mostly because I got to be in Eugene again, where the other half of my soul resides forever. 

So, so, SO many ice baths after my long runs.

Anything to preserve the knee. My girls often brought me bath toys to keep me company. 

Proof that I might be the spawn of Shawn Bradley and Lisa Leslie. WHY DO I LOOK LIKE A GIANT HERE?! Probably because Haley is a dwarf. A very cute dwarf! Also, my mom deserves a gold medal in child birthing for getting my enormous head out of the birth canal. Mom, you're the best.

I promised myself that after the marathon, I would take a break from running and ease back into it. Two weeks after the race Haley texted me, "10 miles tomorrow?" And I was like, YES PLEASE. 
We've definitely scaled it back, but we're still running like the bulls in Spain. It's so fun. It's made me realize that I really love running. I thought about that a lot during the marathon. WHY THE HECK AM I DOING THIS?! People don't believe me when I say ANYONE can run a marathon. Trust me, I'm a novice runner at best, and I am 100% confident that anyone can do it. 

(according to a borderline loser runner who actually knows nothing about real running)

1. The desire to do it. If you do not want to feel that amazing feeling of accomplishment, then don't run a marathon. Runner's high is real and once you get a taste, you can't help but come back over and over. You will think it's not going to drag you in, but like many of the gateway drugs - IT WILL CONSUME YOU. Most people I know that hate running, have never consistently run more than three miles at a time. Let me tell you this, the first three miles of any run are the WORST. Even I hate the first three miles. You have to want to push past the first three, five or fifteen miles to finish the marathon. 

2. Caffeine pills. This is a gem my sister (WHO IS LEGIT. SHE RAN THE BOSTON MARATHON TWICE, YO!) taught me. Anything over 10 miles and I'm popping a Vivran. When you have to get up at 5 in the morning, nothing helps like my good friend caffeine. 

3. Vaseline. Let's be real, I got thighs. Big ones. And there is nothing worse than a bloody groin from chaffing. If you plan on running and you look like Beyonce, you're going to need some vaseline. Apply liberally, thank me later. 

4. A healthy relationship with exercising. Many people think running a marathon will magically turn you into Heidi Klum. I mean, obviously that worked for me...
except it didn't. I actually GAINED nine pounds running the marathon. It's not a miracle get skinny trick, it is freaking hard work, and you have to be strong and well-fed to run 40 miles a week. I read this article a while back and have firmly tried to adopt it in every way. READ IT. "Strength equals self-sufficiency. Fitness opens doors. Exercising is a lifestyle. Working out equals hard-working. Nature rules." I want Evie and Anna to know that I get up at 5:30 to run because I love it, not because I want to be skinny. Sure, it helps me stay in shape, fit into my clothes, etc. but nothing compares to how I feel when I run. When I run, I don't wear makeup or have cute hair (let's be honest, I never have cute hair - too much effort) or brush my teeth. I actually look pretty gross. But when I come home I feel like a rockstar because I AM A ROCKSTAR. The daily challenges of motherhood seem surmountable when I've started my day with a tough mental climb. 

5. Which brings me to #5, Don't compare yourself to others. Like I said, anyone can run a marathon. Old, young, male, female, fat, skinny, blind, weird, smart, stupid, ugly, pretty. It's a mental game and the winners are the most mentally tough. When you run, there is no judging. There is a realm of acceptance and appreciation among runners. You build each other up, not down (at least in noncompetitive running) This is an awesome article about an obese runner. READ IT. When I read about this woman running or see a super fit, fast runner I don't think anything but YOU GO GIRL! I love feeling inspired by others and their accomplishments and you can't do that when you are constantly comparing yourself. 

6. A good work out playlist for those solo runs. In a perfect world, I would have run every training run with Haley. But she's got a husband and three kids and I have a husband and two kids. So there were several days a week were I had to go on my own, which isn't too bad if it's not a long run. But you have to have music. This song LITERALLY got me through the marathon. After Nick left me at mile 24, I listened to it on repeat until I finished the marathon. It is without a doubt, the best running song ever. YOU CAN THANK ME LATER.

Here's my top ten running songs:
1. Work this Body - Walk the Moon
2. The Nights - Avicii
3. Glamorous - Fergie
4. Till I Collapse - Eminem
5. Jealous - Chromeo 
6. Sugar - Maroon 5 (Honestly, any Maroon 5 is great)
7. Goodbye - Who is Fancy
8. Urgent - Foreigner
9. Ce Jeu - Yelle
10. Whistle - Katy Tiz
Honorable mention: Lollipop - MIKA 

Obviously the list changes all the time, but for the marathon, these were my jam.

7. Time. Obviously I'm not a super fast runner. Throw some long distance in there and I'm definitely average, so running 20 miles takes me three hours. You have to be willing to give up free time for running. Some nights instead of watching TV with Nick or getting stuff done, I was out with Haley running. It's a pretty big sacrifice. Your life revolves around your runs - what you eat, how much you sleep, your Saturdays, etc. 

8. A support system. This is a no-brainer. I don't know who the marathon was more hard on, my family or me. I think if I was a faster, more experienced runner, I would be better at managing time. However, I felt like I spent a lot of time away from my family and Nick was so supportive of that. He encouraged me to go and never made me feel like I was selfish for accomplishing something that was really important to me. And I don't feel like running to stay in shape is selfish at all. But a marathon can be time consuming and you definitely need people to be supportive of that.

9. A running buddy. Guys, I struck gold with that teeny tiny dwarf of a buddy. She waits for me when I'm slow, she makes me get up at 5 AM and she's the most nonjudgmental therapist. When you suffer with someone who is your friend, it's sort of fun (in a weird twisted psychotic runner's way).

10. Proper gear. Buy yourself an actual sports bra. $12 Champion Target sports bras DO NOT COUNT. I thought they did. Then I bought myself this. LIFE CHANGING. Invest in things that will help you enjoy running. You wouldn't wear a deflated life vest wake boarding. You wouldn't wear a broken harness rock climbing. So try running in comfortable, good quality running gear. 

That's it.

What do I know about running? Pretty much nothing. If I have any real running questions (about form, negative splits, what to eat, etc.) I ask my sister or Haley. Most of the time, I just try to enjoy being outside witnessing some killer sunrises/sunsets. And honestly, it's a small miracle my squatty hobbit body could even run a dang marathon, but like I said - anyone can do it! And if you're looking for 5k/Half-Marathon that's super fun/well-organized/for a good cause, sign up for my sister's race Labor Day Weekend. Here's the link. Now go sign up because you're a rockstar. 


Virginia Prescott said...

I bow to you. Also I LOVE that walk the moon song too!

jennica said...

This was so inspiring! I ran a half 2 years ago and now that I have Owen I am full of a million excuses and laziness! I wish I had you as a running partner! You are amazing!!! Can't wait to check out your jams! Love your running selfies! You are amazing! I never want to wake up at 5am ever!

ellen said...

Next up: Boston!